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The Ever-Present Noise of Sound: On the Inevitability and Necessity of Noise in Recorded Sound and Music

Colloquium Muziekwetenschap
Melle Kromhout (PhD candidate at ASCA)

21 mei, 15:30-17:00
Universiteitstheater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, zaal 3.01

In my PhD-project on the role of noise in recorded sound and music, I aim to provide an alternative to existing views on noise that continue to consider it in terms of its transgressive or subversive potential as the sonic “other.” Through a methodological approach largely influenced by media archaeology or, more broadly, so-called German Media Theory, I develop a theoretical framework that enables a thorough revaluation of the fundamental importance of noise for assessing the meaning of music and sound in the media age.

In this talk I will first provide a general overview of the main questions and aims of my ongoing research. Secondly, I will present two case studies of specific sound technologies that provided the foundation for my larger thesis: an analysis of noise reduction technologies in analogue recording practices makes the case for the inevitability of noise; next, the analysis of the practice of “dithering” in digital sound processing shows how noise can even be considered necessary. I will close my presentation with some preliminary thoughts on the further development of the project.